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Blu-ray Review: Evilspeak
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Adam Frazier   |  @   |  
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Evilspeak (1981) from Scream Factory

Evilspeak
Available on: Blu-ray
Director: Eric Weston
Screenwriters: Eric Weston and Joseph Garofalo
Cast: Clint Howard, R.G. Armstrong, Joe Cortese, Claude Earl Jones, Haywood Nelson, Don Stark, Richard Moll
Scream Factory
Unrated | 97 Minutes
Release Date: April 5th, 2013

So wait, let me get this straight: Bull from Night Court (Richard Moll) plays Father Esteban, a Satanic cult leader from the Dark Ages who is resurrected by Clint Howard via an IBM personal computer?

Sure, that makes sense to me. You really haven’t lived until you’ve seen Bull from Night Court in some dusty old Jedi robe, decapitating a topless woman on the shores of Spain. That’s the opening scene of Evilspeak, Eric Weston‘s 1981 film that involves Satanic rites, word processors, and the homoerotic goings-on of a military academy locker room.

Cue Stanley Coopersmith (Howard, Rock ’n’ Roll High School), a teenage outcast who’s bullied by everyone at the military academy. It’s like Brian De Palma’s Carrie, but with Clint Howard in the coveted “They’re all going to laugh at you!” spot.

His Sue Snell is an arrogant dick named Bubba (Don Stark) who, along with his gang of sweaty guys perpetually getting ready to hit the showers, makes Stanley’s life a living hell – until he discovers the crypt of a 16th Century Satanist (Bull from Night Court) beneath the academy’s chapel, that is.

Stanley finds Father Esteban’s diary and becomes fascinated with using his computer skills to translate its secrets. He uses black magic and creates a computerized Black Mass that unleashes unholy revenge upon his tormentors. It all starts when Sarge (R.G. Armstrong, Predator) – an old drunk at the academy – threatens to snap his puppy’s neck. Stanley’s Satanic supercomputer boots up and kills Sarge.

This is a weird fucking movie, guys. While the boys attend the Miss Heavy Artillery beauty contest, a naked Miss Friedemeyer (Lynn Hancock) is eaten alive in the shower by a gang of massive hogs. Yes – giant pigs bust into the bathroom and pull a Mrs. Bates on her. Meanwhile, Stanley has another encounter with Bubba and the boys, who threaten to kill his puppy. What’s with all of these military assholes wanting to kill a sweet, innocent puppy? And why is Satan – the goddamn Prince of Darkness himself – this rescue dog’s biggest champion?

As Don Bluth taught us in 1989, all dogs do in fact go to heaven – including Stanely’s puppy, who is eventually murdered by Bubba. Stanley makes a blood sacrifice to his computer and is possessed by Father Esteban, who vows to make them pay. Stanley transforms into what I can only describe as Howie Mandel from Little Monsters meets Peter MacNicol’s Dr. Janosz Poha from Ghostbusters II.

Brandishing a He-Man sword, Clint Howard commands his army of flesh-craving hogs and brings fire and brimstone upon the assholes and puppy-killers of the United States Military Academy. A truly bizarre movie, I find it hard to believe Evilspeak even exists. I’ve seen a lot of bad horror movies but nothing is quite so surreal as Carrie with Clint.

Prior to its U.S. theatrical release, Moreno Films requested that the graphic violence be cut to avoid an X rating from the MPAA. Thanks to Scream Factory, Evilspeak has been completely restored from a newly discovered 35 mm inter-positive source that includes the bloody scenes left on the cutting room floor.

Scream Factory, an off-shoot of Shout! Factory, is dedicated to releasing obscure, fan-favorite horror and sci-fi titles from the ’80s, many of which have never been available on Blu-ray (or even DVD) before. Bonus features include an audio commentary with writer/director Eric Weston as well as cast interviews with Clint Howard, Don Stark, and Joe Cortese.

Also included is Effects Speak with Allan A. Apone, an interview with the film’s effects supervisor, and Satan’s Pigs and Severed Heads: The Making of Evilspeak. Claude Earl Jones, who plays Coach in the film, sums up the thoughts of his co-stars when he says, “I thought it was the worst script I had ever read.”

Still, Scream Factory’s presentation is impressive. If you’re unfamiliar, Scream is kind of like the Criterion Collection for long-forgotten cult horror. These guys put a lot of effort into tracking down obscure titles and painstakingly restoring them in high-definition. Not that anyone really *needs* to see Clint Howard in high-definition but hey – for those cinema archaeologists looking to uncover hidden treasures, Evilspeak proves to be a curious, if not entertaining release.

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